Carroll ISD aims to save $1.5 million through use of solar panels

Finding ways to reduce costs in a school district's budget without cutting faculty positions or educational programs can be difficult, but Carroll ISD has found a way to cut expenses at Carroll High School for the next 25 years.

In July the district signed a contract with Oncor Electric to receive a rebate valued at about $550,000 toward the installation of a 500 kilowatt solar array at CHS.

The project will cost $1,242,025 and has a life expectancy of 25 years.

The array is being installed by Axium Solar, and per the district's agreement with Oncor, must be near completion or finished by Nov. 20.

Matt Miller, assistant superintendent for administration services, said the solar array will take up about 65 percent of the high school's roof space; the panels will only be one inch above the existing roof.

Miller said the panels are projected to save the district $60,000 per year in electricity costs. Currently, he said the district spends about $180,000 in electricity costs for the high school each year.

"We want to reduce any overhead costs that we can that aren't related to instructional cost," he said. "So we will continue to target areas like this."

While the solar array will be operative seven days a week, 24/7, Miller said it will not generate enough power to sustain all of the high school's electricity needs. However, it is expected to generate 600,000 kW per year, which would be enough to power one-third of the high school's needs.

CHS will be the second school in the district to install a solar array — Carroll Middle School was the first.

Robb Welch, Carroll ISD finance services assistant superintendent, said the experience with CMSs array has been deemed a great investment for the district, and he said he thinks the high school's array will be just as valuable financially.

"I think it's great that we can utilize the sun for electricity instead of asking taxpayers to pay for it," Welch said. "It has been great, and hopefully in the future more of our schools will be able to take advantage."